Government considers tough new laws on speed and drunk driving

23 November 2019 - 13:14 By MPUMZI ZUZILE
Government is considering reducing speed limits and lowering the permissible blood-alcohol level for drivers to 0% to reduce the carnage on the country's roads.
Government is considering reducing speed limits and lowering the permissible blood-alcohol level for drivers to 0% to reduce the carnage on the country's roads.
Image: Rescue Care

With more than 1,600 people killed on SA roads over the 2018/2019 festive season, transport minister Fikile Mbalula is considering a number of changes to the country’s traffic laws, including a 0% blood alcohol level for drivers and reducing national speed limits.

In a statement on Saturday, Mbalula’s spokesperson Ayanda-Allie Paine said the minister had received a “plethora of proposals” on how to reduce the carnage on SA’s roads.

“These suggestions include, but are not limited to, the reduction of speed limits as well as the proposal to reduce the blood alcohol level to 0%,” Paine said.

She said: “All suggestions are considered. Some are put to the test to measure their viability and are then either adopted (via due process) or abandoned. Others are ruled out outright, when judged against the country’s legal framework and other criteria.”

She said looking into the feasibility of a proposal did not necessarily mean that the proposal would be implemented.

In January, the department of transport released the road fatality data for the 2018/2019 festive period, reporting that 1,612 people lost their lives on SA roads during that time.

Paine said the proposal could see speed limits on the country’s roads reduced by 20km/h.

This would effectively drop the speed limit on the country’s highways from 120km/h to 100km/h, while the limits on main roads would drop from 100km/h to 80km/h.

Speed limits in residential areas would decrease from 60km/h to 40km/h.

Business Tech reported last week that the department of transport and the Road Traffic Management Corporation were reviewing SA’s drunk driving laws.

It said they aimed to drop the legal blood-alcohol level to 0%, meaning that drivers would not be allowed to drink alcohol and drive at all.

The concentration of alcohol in a driver’s blood specimen would have to be less than 0.05 grams per 100 millilitres.

In October, Mbalula announced the new Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act would be in full effect from June next year (2020).

Mbalula said the new system would greatly improve safety on the country’s roads and help reduce fatalities.

The act will introduce a new demerit system meaning all traffic fines across the country will now carry the same penalty.

Last month, SA Breweries invested in 17 alcohol evidence centres (AECs) across SA.

The state-of-the-art AECs are equipped with the necessary equipment required by law enforcement officials to accurately and efficiently determine the breath alcohol level of a person suspected of driving under the influence.

If a driver’s breath alcohol level is tested at above the legal limit, they are arrested and detained in a SAPS facility.


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